There is help out there

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 3, 2002

There is help out there.

Any number of suicides is unfortunate, but the number that has plagued Andalusia this summer goes beyond that, into the realms of horrific. Depression, drugs, domestic problems - the reasons behind the suicides are legion but the result are always the same - grief and a family left wondering "why?"

There is help out there. The South Central Alabama Mental Health Center has a hotline for those feeling suicidal to call, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. According to Cynthia Hataway, the center's director, the Helpline Emergency Service line received 339 calls in 2000, 283 in 2001, and already more than 200 this year. She anticipates the number of calls this year to exceed those of previous years. The Helpline always has at least four trained staff members available, with six or seven masters level therapists on call at all times. They assist with jail, with court, the police, the hospitals and with any individual in need. There is no charge for the service.

There is help out there - there is hardly a street corner in this town that doesn't boast a church, and within it, a caring clergyman and congregation.

There is help out there – neighbors and co-workers, friends and acquaintances and even caring strangers….

We are out here. As members of the same community, as members of the human race, it is our duty to respond to these cries of help when and if we can.

No one should feel so alone that suicide is their answer. No one should be so forgotten that there death goes unnoticed, unwept for, unregretted.

Pay attention to the warning signs: talking about dying or other types of self harm; a recent loss through death, divorce, separation, broken relationship, loss of job, money, status, etc.; changes in personality; change in behavior, lack of concentration;

changes in sleep patterns;

change in eating habits; diminished sexual interest, impotence, menstrual abnormalities (often missed periods); fear of losing control; low self-esteem;

and loss of hope for the future.

Other things to watch for- suicidal impulses, statements, plans, giving away favorite things;

previous suicide attempts; substance abuse; making out wills; arranging for the care of pets; extravagant spending; agitation; hyperactivity; restlessness or lethargy.

The risk of suicide may be greatest as the depression lifts.

If you exhibit these symptoms, or know someone who does, please let them know - there is help out there.

The Helpline number is: 222-7954, or toll free, 877-530-0002.